theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

February 4, 2014

City of Ada backs proposed restrictions on well spacing

Eric Swanson Staff Writer adanewsreporter@cableone.net
www.theadanews.com

Ada — Ada is backing the state’s proposal to impose new limits on the placement of water wells near streams.

The Ada City Council voted 5-0 Monday to support proposed regulations concerning well spacing within a sensitive sole source groundwater basin, especially as it applies to streams and perennial streams. If adopted, the rules would provide guidelines for placing wells wile protecting the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer and its springs and streams.

City officials decided to endorse the proposed rules after reviewing them with the Ada Water Resources Board, said City Manager Cody Holcomb.

“This resolution supports the separation from streams and springs as discussed in the proposed rules while requesting clarification from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board on the criteria and methodology for determining the cumulative impact and 25 percent reduction in base flow of the subject stream or spring,” he said.

Holcomb said the city also supports new rules governing water permits for people who currently hold temporary permits, especially as those rules apply to the Arbuckle-Simpson. He added that the city will likely need 10 to 20 years to acquire additional water rights in light of the state’s recent decision setting the maximum annual yield for the aquifer.

“It should be noted that staff is currently working to understand the effects of a 10-year financing plan to cover the cost of additional water rights,” he said.

The term “sensitive sole source groundwater basin” refers to a major groundwater basin or sub-basin which has been designated as a sole source aquifer by the Environmental Protection Agency. Arbuckle-Simpson is Oklahoma’s only sole source aquifer, which means it provides more than 50 percent of the area’s drinking water and does not have a viable alternative.

The OWRB is considering restricting well spacing in sensitive source groundwater basins, such as Arbuckle-Simpson, where the maximum annual yield has been determined. Under the proposed rules, people could not drill wells within a two-mile radius of a spring in a sensitive source groundwater basin if the spring generates an average of 500 gallons of water per minute.

People would also be barred from drilling wells within one mile of a perennial stream segment that produces 500 gallons per minute. The only exception would be if the applicant demonstrates that the cumulative impact of pumping from the new well, combined with pumping from existing wells, would not reduce the spring or stream’s base flow by more than 25 percent.

The OWRB is also considering a new rule concerning temporary groundwater permits for sensitive sole source basins, which would kick in after the state has determined the maximum annual yield and equal proportionate share for those zones.

Under the new rule, permit holders would have 60 days to ask the state to continue their temporary permit until the date when the regular permit takes effect. The OWRB can approve requests to extend permits for less than five years without publishing public notices or holding a hearing, but the board would have to issue notices and schedule a hearing for requests totaling five years or more.

Any grant of additional time will include a schedule for complying with the state’s directives setting the maximum annual yield and equal proportionate share for the basin.

The board may adopt the new rules later this year.

In other business, the city council:

• Delayed action zoning classifications for four parcels of land along Stonecipher Boulevard, which were annexed into the city limits last year.

At the request of legal adviser Frank Stout, the council rescheduled a public hearing and possible action on the issue for Feb. 18. Stout said he needed more time to research related issues before discussing the classification with the council.

City officials are looking at whether the city should retain the current zoning classification for the properties, which were zoned as a suburban district.

Under city regulations, all annexed property is designated as a residential zone at first. The designation remains in place for a year while the Metropolitan Planning and Zoning Commission reviews it and makes a recommendation to the council, which decides whether to retain the current classification or change it.

• Postponed action on the city audit for fiscal year 2013 until Feb. 18.